A Guide to Quilting Books

For over a decade, I’ve been collecting and reading all the quilt books I can afford to get my hands upon. What’s listed below are some of my favorite books in a variety of categories. This list is meant to give people a top-quality starting place if they are looking to explore a new genre or skill.

To keep things simple, I listed only one book in each category. That doesn’t mean that other books aren’t also near and dear to my heart. The comment section is always open on this page as I’m very curious to know what books other people have enjoyed. Let me, and other readers of this page know about your favorites!

for beginners

My favorite book for beginning quilters is Beginner’s Guide to Quilting: 16 Projects to Learn to Quilt Paperback by Elizabeth Betts. The author gives clear, complete instructions, which are supported with fantastic photos and illustrations. A great tool for learning.

for improv piecing

Liberated Quiltmaking by Gwen Marston is a fantastic look at breaking out of the box with your quilts and making them in a freer, more personal way. In this book, Marston tips her hat to the vintage quilts she studied and learned from and then sends quilts rocketing into the future.

for improv piecing with a modern look

Quilt Improv: Incredible Quilts from Everyday Inspirations Paperback by Lucie Summers is my favorite of the batch of books that builds on Marston’s ideas and surrounds them with a more modern aesthetic. Summers’s writing has clarity, enthusiasm, and encouragement.

Rachel May

on modern quilting

This book is unlike any other quilting book I have encountered. Quilting with a Modern Slant: People, Patterns, and Techniques Inspiring the Modern Quilt Community by Rachel May covers the history of the modern quilt movement, looking at the people and the gathering places that gave rise to this new look in quilting. Clear, thorough, and even contains some great patterns!

for curved piecing

A Quilter’s Mixology: Shaking Up Curved Piecing by Angela Pingel covers everything you need to know about piecing curves with precision. The quilts, writing, and instructions are all lovely.

for foundation paper pieceing

Foundation paper piecing involves stitching fabric to a piece of paper. That piece of paper is marked with the lines of the image you’re creating and lets the quilter create tiny, intricate pictures out of fabric. It’s a challenge to learn at first because everything seems upside down and inside out. Playful Little Paper-Pieced Projects: 37 Graphic Designs & Tips from Top Modern Quilters makes the process clear and is filled with beautiful blocks.

for foundation paper piecing

For quilts that use foundation paper piecing to make precision blocks–think more traditional shapes, less cutesy designs–check out The Quilter’s Paper-Piecing Workbook by Elizabeth Dackson. This fantastic book shows quilts with a lot of appeal and teaches you how to make them!

for english paper piecing

English paper piecing is done by hand, as little bits of fabric are wrapped around thick papers and stitched to each other. Check out All Points Patchwork: English Paper Piecing beyond the Hexagon for Quilts & Small Projects Paperback by Diane Gilleland to learn this process and see all it’s possibilities.

for applique

The Appliqué Book: Traditional Techniques, Modern Style – 16 Quilt Projects Paperback by Casey York is an excellent collection of instructions and patterns. It covers machine and hand applique, reverse applique, broderie perse, and more.

for sampler quilts

This is by far my favorite book for sampler quilts. The author has created her own interesting, modern blocks and gives the readers a lot of fun ways to combine them. Patchwork City: 75 Innovative Blocks for the Modern Quilter 6 Sampler Quilts Paperback by Elizabeth Hartman

for free motion quilting

There are a number of top-quality books on free-motion quilting. I particularly like First Steps to Free-Motion Quilting Paperback by Christina Cameli as it starts from zero and helps you get your fundamentals right. Cameli is very warm and encouraging.

to make modern batik

I have fallen in love with making my own fabric. It makes my quilts so much more of an individual expression. This book covers the batik process and is truly inspiring. Color Your Cloth: A Quilter’s Guide to Dyeing and Patterning Fabric Paperback by Malka Dubrawsky

for dyeing fabric

This beautiful book covers a variety of techniques for dyeing cotton fabrics with procion dyes. Modern Color: An Illustrated Guide to Dyeing Fabric for Modern Quilts by Kim Eichler-Messmer also includes several beautiful patterns.

for altering fabrics

In Beyond Cotton: Making by Hand: Stamp, Print, Dye & Paint 18 Modern Mixed Media Sewing Projects Paperback, Krista Fleckenstein covers not only dye techniques but also stamping, painting and more. Learn to make your own fabric at home and pair it with leather, linen, and other substrates.

Three of My All-Time Favorites

This was the first book I ever found that contained several quilts I loved and wanted to make.  If you haven’t ever looked inside,  Denyse Schmidt Quilts: 30 Colorful Quilt and Patchwork Projects, you should.  Ten years after its publication, I still admire the work immensely.

Yoshiko Jinzenji’s style has had a major influence on me and my work.  I bought this book in french before it was available in English.  Check out Quilting Line and Color: Techniques and Designs for Abstract Quilts to see a master at her peak.

Carolyn Friedlander’s book  Savor Each Stitch: Studio Quilting with Mindful Design is my favorite book to come out in recent years.  Friedlander’s quilts are amazing and original and this book contains a ton of inspirational designs.

I am an Amazon affiliate and have linked to their store with affiliate links.  This means that if you click through to their website and buy, I receive a small kickback, at no cost to you.  While I appreciate your using my links, please don’t feel any obligation–if you can check these books out from your library or buy them from a local shop, that’s awesome!

This Post Has 39 Comments

  1. I’m wondering if anyone has a favorite free-motion quilting book that isn’t a “basics” or “intro” book? I seem to have a few that are catalogs of motifs, but what about a book that walks the reader through a more elaborate design process and/or shows how to troubleshoot with quilts that don’t lie flat, etc.

    1. Hi Rossie, please forgive me for posting a comment when I’m actually trying to email you, but I can’t find a contact email for you. My Mom and I are desperate to send you 4 pictures of some applique quilt blocks that she found. It’s multi-color applique half circles and 1/4 circles that form a chain pattern. We’ve tried many sources to identify the pattern, and hope you and your expertise will solve the mystery. 🙂 We believe they are from the 60’s because the pattern pieces mention using paisley print. Thank you so much for your time.

  2. I don’t buy many books, but one in my collection that I treasure is Yoshiko Jinzenji’s book Quilt Artistry Inspired Designs from the East. I bought this book long before the “Modern” quilt movement and it was what got me on the road to do line quilting.

  3. The book that really hooked me into quilting, by showing me multiple entry points of improv blocks that I could try, was Block Party, The Modern Quilting Bee by Alissa Haight Carlton & Kristin Lejnieks. I worked through that one book for months and was HOOKED! It started my quilting book library which is ever-expanding….. As for Free Motion (which I need much more practice in) have you looked at Angela Walters’ books? I usually feel out of my league when I open them up, but maybe for what you seek that would be a good thing….?

  4. Love that you have recommendations for fabric dyeing books too! Have been thinking of dyeing my own fabric for a while now but could not decide on any particular book. Another art I really appreciate is Sashiko embroidery. Do you have any suggestions for those?

    1. Sheetal — no I don’t know, but maybe another commenter will? I have had my eye on Rebecca Ringquist’s embroidery workshop, but I haven’t spent more than a minute with the book and couldn’t tell you what it covers.

  5. When I was ready to move on to more elaborate FMQ work, I picked up a copy of Shap by Shape, an Angela Walters book. It has come in pretty handy!

  6. As a *brand* new quilter (made my first quilt top two weeks ago) who usually sews clothes, I was surprised to see that applique can be used in quilting and look so modern. Love the finishing too. I must learn more!

  7. I learned how to applique from Suzanne Marshall, and her books have helped me a lot, as well as her classes. I am always on the lookout for how to use applique for a more modern design. Would love a copy of Casey York’s Applique Book!

  8. I reference my Angela Walter’s books often- she walks through the process of making the designs, which I need! The few I have that are just the designs themselves are hard for me to follow. 😉

  9. i love quilts that use appliquéd circles. would really like to get a look at this book. love to freezer paper applique.

  10. One of my favorite quilting books is Tula Pink’s City Sampler book. I made all 100 of the blocks in that book and loved every one…except #90 and not sure why that one didn’t turn out! There are so many great quilt books on the market. I’d love to have them all!

  11. I just bought the book The Modern Medallion Workbook and am really looking forward to getting going on a quilt. Good encouragement for beginning improv quilters. Thanks..

  12. I’ll have to check out your recommendations. I do have Sunday Morning Quilts; my guild small group collaborated on making blocks for ‘The Missing U’ pattern. A very good beginner quilt.

  13. I like Natalia Bonner’s Beginner’s Guide to Free Motion Quilting. I am going to get Next Steps in Machine Quilting soon! Thank you

  14. Quilting Line and Color is great, working on a 1/3 scale version on the Applique Swatch Quilt right now. Someone asked about Sashiko, “The Ultimate Sashiko Sourcebook: Patterns, Projects, and Inspiration” by Susan Briscoe is fantastic to start from. I’ve never FMQ’d so I can’t help there, sorry!

  15. What a great idea to have so many book recommendations on a wide variety of topics. I do not have many books so it’s great to see these and read everyone’s comments. Thanks!

    usairdoll(at)gmail(dot)com

  16. Liberated Quiltmaking, and its companion Liberated Medallion Quilts, by Gwen Marston, are my favorite quilting books. Whenever I need to feel inspired I go to them. I flip through those books before I start a new project, whether I have an idea, a pattern, have already chosen fabric–I still get a spark of an idea that makes my next project better because of what I see in Gwen Marston’s books.

  17. I love Carolyn Friedlander too. I am commenting in the hopes of winning the book with your stunning Moments quilt – it’s right up my alley!

  18. I’m so glad to find this reference list. I will look into Quilt Improv because it is a genre I want to explore further and haven’t found a book that really speaks to me. Thank you!

  19. It seems like an antique now, but way back when, the book that started me thinking about creating my own designs was Jinny Beyer’s Patchwork Patterns.

  20. Love your quilts that you made that are in Casey York’s Applique book. I love that simple modern look! Would love to own this book!

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